The Playground Physical Education For Children Physical Education Essay

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A playground, no matter how small, should be an extension of the indoor facility. Children are learning wherever they are. Opportunities for the development of motor skills through large muscle activities should be a part of every daily program for very young children. Outdoor learning needs to be fun, giving, children opportunities to climb, crawl, swing, pull, push, wiggle through, run, jump off, walk on a narrow balance beam ---to move! Standard playground equipment usually begins with swings and a slide. There is nothing wrong with these as long as they are not the only selections made. Financially it may take years to complete a playground---building on piece by piece.

Don't forget to offer challenging and vigorous activities with trikes, bikes, scooters, and wheeled vehicles. Hollow blocks (indoors and out) provide the ideal combination of large muscle and cognitive development. A swing is a good place for a child to gain respite from the demands of group care.

Outdoor play in Winter - A Wonderland or Nightmare

How do we provide play opportunities that are developmentally appropriate and meet the needs of the children / students in our care when the ground is frozen and playground equipment is covered with ice, snow or a combination of both?

Outdoor play spaces and equipment that are appropriate for a wide range of developmental levels during the warmer months, may be totally inappropriate when the ground is frozen and equipment is slippery from ice and or snow. This is the time for the ECE or EA to step back and assess the entire area and the possibilities that it provides. What has nature made available for you to offer fun, safe, developmentally appropriate activities to the children in your care. Think of activities that children will enjoy but don't require use of equipment that is potentially dangerous during the winter months. Brainstorm all the possibilities for social, physical, intellectual, creative and emotional development outdoors without the need for the play structures you use during the summer months.

Build an ice structure. Use it for dramatic play throughout the winter. Fill ice cream containers or milk cartons with coloured water and freeze. Removed coloured ice for children to build simple or elaborate ice structures. Add to it throughout the winter. Introduce a variety of props to encourage dramatic play.

Provide art activities during outdoor play: paint the snow with brushes and liquid tempera paint, coloured water in squirt bottles; stack cubes of frozen coloured water.

Adapt gross motor games to winter weather: follow the leader; duck duck goose; plan an outdoor winter obstacle course

Bring science outside

- Look for tracks in the snow (birds, rabbits, squirrels, fox, etc.). If you don't think there is a possibility of the children finding any animal tracks, identify the tracks of various people - whose tracks are the care providers? The parents? Various children?

- Bring magnifying glasses out to examine snow flakes

- Predict freezing time for hot water and cold water. Put different amounts of water in different shaped containers and predict freezing time

Move around your neighborhood

- Go on scavenger hunts with winter clues

- Adopt a tree - add a bird feeder

- Go on a walk and look at the effects (and patterns) of frost (on windows, trees, cars, fences, etc).

Follow the leader activities, walks with a specific purpose or snow activities are appropriate for a short outing.



Three Types of Playgrounds

1. Traditional Playgrounds

- They contain large steel - immovable equipments (climbing bars, slides, swings)

- Mostly simple units

- Often not well maintained or supervised

- Not consistent with children's learning and development

- Bolts protruding

- One size for all


2. Modern - Creative Playgrounds

- Usually contain a superstructure with movable parts (boards, ramps, wheels)

- Action oriented

- Provide safe underneath surfaces

- Promote all forms of play (functional, constructive, dramatic games)

- Provide for creativity socialization and learning

- Adaptable for fluid materials (sand and water)


3. Adventure Playground

- Origin - Denmark

- They provide for supervised, creative play opportunities

- Contain unconnected tools

- Enable children to build, create and pretend with their own play structures

- Adult function as play leaders

- Playground supports children's freedom to learn and discover


Safety and Supervision

A well supervised outdoor environment promotes safety.

The following guidelines should promote safety and supervision:

1. Circulate.

2. Decide on areas of supervision before going outside.

3. Place 8 - 10 inches of fall-absorbing material

4. High fall places should have retaining borders to hold materials.



Children need storage spaces that they can use. This helps them become more independent. The location of materials is critical. Children should have materials immediately accessible.

Should be:

- child-scaled

- weather tight

- multi-purpose




Safe surfacing is the most important aspect of playground safety. The safe surface should extend a minimum of 1.8 m (6 ft) in all areas around the piece of play equipment. For swings, the safe surface should extend a minimum distance of twice the height from the top of the swing chain to the ground.

The most recommended safe surface are 23-31 cm (9-12 in) of dry, non-compacted hard wood chips, wood mulch, pea gravel or sand. Some synthetic surfaces (pre molded tiles, pour-in place systems) are also acceptable.

Hard, paved surfaces such as concrete or asphalt and earth surfaces like grass; soil and hard packed dirt are not acceptable under or around play equipment. They don't protect the head or other body parts from falls.

Make sure surfaces are clear of stumps, rocks, glass, needles, debris and other hard or dangerous items.


Poor Surfaces


- Too sharp/easily crushed into dust

- Dangerous to eyes

Crushed limestone

- Packs too solidly

- Dust problem

- Glaring colour

Cork Brick

- Heaves in winter


What to Look for in a Surface

Saskatchewan First Nations and Rural Communities use sand as it is easy to install, has a low initial cost, and is readily available. Sand should be loosely packed to yield on impact and cushion children's falls.

Falls are the most frequent cause of injury to children in a playground setting. Attention to surface materials, guardrails, and heights can help reduce these kinds of injuries. It is important that the amount of cushioning present is sufficient for the height of the equipment in the event of a fall.

Sand should be 9 -12 inches deep (push a strong ruler into the sand to measure) and should be raked and tilled each spring, summer and fall to ensure sufficient absorbency in case of a fall. It needs to be inspected daily for debris/garbage. ECE's and EA's also need to check that there is no cement showing at the base of the playground structure. Supervisors should be informed of any problems so that they can notify the maintenance people.


Safe Play

For safe play supervision is the key:

Adults choose a vantage point at or near high-risk pieces of equipment.

Close supervision of preschoolers and children who are between 5 - 9 (most frequently injured).

Make sure children are dressed appropriately. No loose strings, hoods or scarves around their necks.

Ensure equipment is appropriate for children's skill and age

Rules of safe play:

- No pushing.

- Make room for others.

- Stay away from moving objects.

- Keep fingers away from moving parts.

- Be aware of slippery surfaces.

- Always hold hand grips and rails.

- Never jump from unsafe heights.



1. Fall Injuries

- Put protective surfacing under and around all play equipment.

- Place play equipment, curbing and obstacles far enough away from a fall.

- Limit the height of play equipment.


2. Moving Swings "Impact"

- Use lightweight material for swing seats.

- Swings should have proper fall zones and movement areas.


3. Strangulation

Strangulation occurs when:

- clothing gets caught;

- scarves, mittens, jacket strings or jacket hoods get trapped in small gaps;

- a child entangles in ropes and leashes attach to equipment.

- head and neck entrapment

- Measure with head and torso probes to make sure equipment openings are not between 7.6 to 25 centimeters (3 to 10 inches).

- Make sure gaps in equipment can not snare children's clothing or body.

- Helmets become trapped between rungs on climbing equipment. They are not safe on playgrounds, other than when children are riding wheeled vehicles or scooters on pathways.


4. Other Causes of Injuries

- badly positioned equipment

- sharp edges, protrusions, pinch points

- unstable or fall equipment

- hot surfaces resulting from equipment's positions towards direct sunlight


5. Risky Equipment

- see saws

- animal swings

- heavy swinging trapeze bars

- merry-go-rounds

- climbing ropes if not tethered

- chain or cable walks if improperly designed


Playground Safety Checklist

1. If a child falls, will the surface reduce the chance of injury?

- 1.8 metre (6 foot) extension around each piece of equipment

- Swings - minimum twice the height (top of swing to ground)

- Safe Surface 23 - 31 cm (9 - 12 inches) dry, non-compacted hardwood chips, wood mulch, pea gravel or sand

2. Are pieces of play equipment located far enough apart from each other?

- Allow for falling distance - 1.8 metres (6 feet)

- 1.8 metres (6 feet) for stationary equipment

- 3.6 - 5.4 metres (12 - 18 feet) for moving equipment

3. Is play equipment at a safe height?

- platforms for slides and climbing equipment should not be higher than 1.8 metres (6 feet) off the ground for preschoolers; 2.1 metres (7 feet) for older children

4. Does play equipment have adequate guardrails and handrails to prevent falls?

- rails on all equipment over 45 cm (18 inches)

- platforms less than 120 cm (48 inches) high may have horizontal or vertical guardrails

- platforms higher than 120 cm (48 inches) must have vertical rails

5. Are there places where a child's head, neck or other body parts can become trapped?

- openings between 7.3 and 25 cm (3 - 10 inches) may result in entrapment

6. Does any equipment parts entangle clothing or anything else around your child's neck?

- look for protrusions

- look for "S" type hooks

- look for gaps

7. Are there any dangerous/sharp points, nuts, bolts or other projecting parts that can cut or pierce a child's body, or that the child could bump into?

8. Are there any exposed moving parts on the play equipment that can pinch or crush parts of your child's body, especially fingers?

9. Is play equipment in safe condition?

- wooden parts - splinters and cracks

- plastic parts - splitting, cracking

- metal parts - rust, chipped paint

10. Can the playground be safely reached by children?

11. Have all the merry-go-rounds been removed?

12. Are the see saws safe?

- incline no more than 30 degrees and no higher than 1.5 metres (5 feet)

13. Are swings safely positioned?

- should be 76 cm (30 inches) between swings and slide

- T-shaped bucket seats for toddlers

14. Are slides safe?

- is standing platform as wide as slide?

- no more than 30 degrees incline

- exiting section for school age children should be 25.4 - 45 cm (10 - 18 inches)

- 10 - 25.4 cm (4 - 10 inches) for preschoolers

- is there protective surfacing?

- will the slide get hot?

15. Is the bottom rung of climbing equipment for older children far enough off the ground that younger children can't climb up?

16. Is all water supervised?

- children can drown in a few inches of water

17. Is the playground well maintained?

18. Play areas are located away from heavy traffic, loud noises, and sources of chemical contamination.

19. Equipment is placed sufficiently far apart to allow a smooth flow of traffic and adequate supervision.

20. There are no poisonous plants, shrubs, or trees in the area.

21. Weather protection so that children avoid metal on hot days, and have shaded areas and windbreaks.



Meeting Quality Standards

You schedule times for children to play outdoors on safe equipment with opportunities and room to run, jump, climb, swing, ride tricycles, play with balls, and use their large muscles to the fullest. You know that expending energy is important and that physical activity is healthy for children's hearts, lungs, and minds. You also provide opportunities indoors for children to be active through movement games, dancing, and hands-on activities with materials in the classroom. You try to balance quiet, more passive times with active, moving times so that children can channel their energies more positively.


1. First Steps Toward the Standard

- Provide at least one extended outdoor time (twenty to thirty minutes) on safe equipment with adult supervision throughout the outdoor area. (not in extremely cold /hot weather - check the wind chill factor as well as the temperature. Children's skin freezes easily)

- Offer additional materials to use outdoors periodically such as balls, ropes, bubbles, water play, and sand toys.

- Occasionally, organize outdoor group games for those interested (e.g., relay races, Duck Duck Goose,etc.)

- Offer physical activities indoors: play movement games, dance to music using scarves, hop and tiptoe on the ABC rug, be a marching band with rhythm instruments.

- Encourage children to try out different activities. Help a reticent child find something of interest and respect if she refuses.

2. Making Progress Toward the Standard

- Provide at least one extended outdoor time (twenty to thirty minutes) on safe equipment with adult supervision throughout the outdoor area.

- Invite children to suggest additional materials to use outdoors periodically (e.g., paint easels, bowling game, wind streamers, etc.).

- Help the children organize outdoor group games for those interested and provide support and supervision.

- Offer physical activities indoors and invite children to initiate their favorites.

- Encourage children to try out different activities. Help a reticent child find something of interest and respect if she refuses.

3. Accomplishing the Standard

- Provide at least one extended outdoor time (twenty to thirty minutes) on safe equipment with adult supervision throughout the outdoor area.

- Invite children to suggest additional materials to use outdoors periodically. Have a picnic snack. Set up a driver's license test for bike riders. Follow an obstacle course.

- Encourage children to organize outdoor group games for those interested.

- Invite children to initiate their favorite indoor physical activities.

- Encourage children to try out different activities and to help a more reticent child find something of interest. Still do respect if she refuses.